Should I Get Travel Insurance?

Today in the Middle Seat Mailbox column in the Wall Street Journal is an article on “Should I Get Travel Insurance?” by Scott McCartney.

The article does not go into enough detail about the types of considerations that you should go through when deciding if travel insurance is right for you. Here are some of the things you should consider:

  1. If you cancel your trip will you be subject to cancellation penalties? What does your ticket, lease, or travel contract specify in the event you have to cancel?
  2. Do they have cancellations charges or additional fees if you have to interrupt your trip?
  3. Does your medical coverage provide benefits for your travel destination? If so do they limit coverage? Medicare does not provide coverage outside the USA and many PPO’s and HMO’s will limit coverage once outside your area of service.
  4. Does your medical coverage provide benefits for Emergency Medical Evacuations? Most medical plans will not cover those expenses.
  5. Does your credit card provide coverage? How limited is the coverage on your card? Example; most baggage coverages offered by credit cards only provide coverage while the baggage is check on a common carrier where you have used the credit card to pay for passage.

In addition if you decide that you don’t need trip cancellation or interruption coverage you can eliminate those coverages by just indicating that your trip cost is 0. In most plans this will eliminate your eligibility for the ‘waiver of pre-existing conditions’ however, if you are healthy this might not be an issue.

I also took exception to the statement in the article that “It is correct (and a carefully guarded secret within the insurance industry) that most beach vacations allow for full cancellation and/or rebooking without penalty if you find yourself in the imminent path of a hurricane”. I’ve been in the travel insurance industry since 1969. I was the Divisional head of Travel Insurance at The Travelers Insurance Companies, was one of the founders of Travel Insured International and currently I am CEO of one of the leading travel insurance comparison sites and I’ve never have been privy to “a carefully guarded secret”. The information about whether or not a beach vacation will or will not provide a refund is totally up to the travel supplier, their cancellation penalty provisions found in their contract and whether they will waive their penalties as a gesture of good will. I think you’ll find that only the larger resorts will do that and the smaller ones or the individual rentals will not. I believe this was such a problem in North Carolina that it prompted the legislature to pass a law that requires individual rentals to offer travel insurance or be required to provide a full refund if there is a mandatory evacuation.

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